PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Last month, KDKA was the first to report about drivers who are blowing through the toll area on the Turnpike without paying, and many times, they completely got away with it.
But that soon could change.
As KDKA’s investigation found, other than sending you a bill in the mail, the Turnpike has no enforcement ability to come after you if you refuse to pay your toll.
As first shown in early November, the Pennsylvania Turnpike has a problem with thousands of drivers evading tolls, resulting in millions of dollars in uncollected or lost revenue.
“They run through the E-ZPass, and when they get the letters in the mail, they totally disregard them,” said Allegheny County Sen. Jay Costa.
Sen. Costa and Sen. John Rafferty from suburban Philadelphia have taken up the cause to give the Turnpike the teeth it needs to collect the tolls. The bill was introduced Wednesday.
“It provides us the ability to go after the drivers who don’t pay the tolls as they should,” Costa said.
Specifically, if you ignore six unpaid tolls or your tolls and fees total $500 or more…
“PennDOT will work with the Turnpike to suspend the registration of that owner as it pertains to their vehicle,” Costa said.
Your car’s registration would remain void until the tolls are paid, and the bill includes a reciprocity agreement with other states.
“So folks who are driving from out of state, not from Pennsylvania or registered in Pennsylvania, we’d be able to go after them in different states to capture those resources,” Costa said.
With the Turnpike this past week unveiling “Toll by Plate” on the Delaware Bridge and moving toward more electronic tolling all across the state to keep vehicles moving, Sen. Costa worries about the money the Turnpike is already writing off as a total loss every year.
“That number of $3 to $4 million in totally lost revenue probably grows and maybe doubles as we go forward, so that’s what we are trying to prevent and that’s why we’re trying to do it now,” he said.
Turnpike chairman Sean Logan issued a statement Friday supporting the bill, saying until this bill is passed, “those who play by the rules of the Pennsylvania Turnpike will continue to pick up the tab for the violators who ignore repeated requests to pay their fair share.”
Sen. Costa told KDKA-TV’s John Shumway he hopes to get the bill quickly moving through the legislative process starting in January.